Upcycling Aesthetic: Tensegrity, Industrial and Modern

For my upcycling project, I was able to find electronic waste (discarded keyboards, mouse, and monitor), glass bottles, different sized bike wheels, and cardboard. Looking at the bike wheels, I got the idea to make a tensegrity structure made almost entirely out of the bike wheel parts, which are the rims, spokes, and the hub. I chose industrial style, modern, and all matte black as my aesthetic. Here are a few crude sketches I created while ideating.

I chose industrial style, modern, and matte black as my aesthetic because of my design vision of the tensegrity table created from two intersecting circular elements and having similar two elements at the top and bottom which could suit these styles very well. The project would look like a modern sculpture or structure, yet it would be functional as a coffee table or side table having a round glass on top of it. The form of the bike rims not being purely circular, but having a distinct contour cross section and being interconnected with spokes would add to the industrial look. Also, the matte black color could add a smooth and uniform appearance while highlighting the steel spokes and their industrial flair.

A tensegrity structure is defined as “a system of isolated, compressed components within a network of chords that are under continuous tension.” I recognized that the spokes are purely tensile elements in a bike wheel’s construction and I could utilize them as the tensile elements of the tensegrity structure while the bike rims would be the components in compression and bending.

I must add that a tensegrity structure in itself has a unique look to it, considering the long slender elements in compression, connected using cables or fabric. This can be seen in the examples which include the Kenneth Snelson sculpture in the featured image above, and following are a common simple tensegrity artifact, the Kurilpa Bridge, and the tent structure of the Denver International Airport.

A common example of tesegrity structure from Arch2O
The Kurilpa Bridge
The tent structure of the Denver International Airport


Image Credits:

How do Tensegrity Structures Defy Gravity? Explained with 10 Examples


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